CHAMPAGNE-MOUTON, France – Supporters of U.S. fugitive Ira Einhorn joined him at home in this small French village Wednesday, chatting and sipping wine from plastic cups at a party he has called a "Last Supper" before his likely extradition from France.
On Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights is to announce its decision on Einhorn's appeal of his extradition order. If the appeal is rejected, Einhorn faces a new trial in Pennsylvania for the brutal 1977 murder of his girlfriend.
The former anti-war activist had planned a barbecue for his last evening before the decision, but pouring rain forced the gathering inside. Reporters were kept outside, but colored party lights were visible through the windows. Friends arrived bearing bouquets of flowers and dishes of food covered in tin foil.
Einhorn had spent most of the day at home. A police van was parked outside the house and down the road officers stopped passers-by at a checkpoint. Einhorn has been under police surveillance, although he is free to leave the house, followed by police.
Einhorn, 61, told The Associated Press earlier this week he was planning a sort of "Last Supper" barbecue in his backyard to pass the time.
"We're opening the house and we'll have a big barbecue," he said in a telephone interview. The party was also meant to celebrate his wife Annika's 50th birthday.
After losing his final French appeal against extradition last Thursday, he had slit his throat in a dramatic gesture of protest. Though he called it a suicide attempt, he was not seriously injured, and he returned home later in the day after receiving outpatient treatment. His neck is still bandaged.
France had been preparing to extradite him immediately last week, but agreed to wait a week until the European court examined the case.
The European court could now ask France to again postpone the extradition, or it could decline to intervene any further.
Einhorn fled the United States in 1981, soon before he was to stand trial for the murder of Holly Maddux. Her battered corpse was found stuffed in a trunk inside a closet of the Philadelphia apartment the couple shared. He was convicted in absentia of the crime.
He lived in England, Ireland and Sweden under pseudonyms before he was arrested in France in 1997.
Einhorn maintains he was framed by the CIA and has adamantly denied killing Maddux.
A 1998 Pennsylvania law provided for a retrial, and U.S. officials promised that Einhorn would not be eligible for the death penalty because capital punishment was not legal in that state at the time of the crime. European Union countries generally refuse to extradite suspects who face the death penalty.